I FUCKING ICE SKATED. For the first time in possibly 40 years. I am so psyched.
I told Chris, my visiting friend from Chapel Hill, that Citibank had turned Bryant Park into a skating pond and maybe we could go there and watch. She liked that idea since she wanted to pay a visit to the library, which Bryant Park is of course right behind.
As the time approached—today—I found myself saying to Chris, “If we are watching people ice skate, I am probably going to have to rent skates and go out there and try it.”
To Chris’s great credit, even though her mother would never let her and her siblings learn to ice skate for fear they’d get hurt, and even though in recent years her sister actually broke an arm ice skating at Rockefeller Center, she said without an instant’s hesitation, “Go for it!” And when we got there, and I was looking for a way to bail (maybe they’d be all out of skates my size?), her look of delighted expectation left me no way out.
* * *
First, of course, I fell on my ass.
I got out on the ice and was shocked. I jerked and wobbled back and forth spastically and went right over backwards. Got back up and lunged for the railing. Thought, “There is no way I can do this. My balance isn’t good enough any more. My reflexes are too slow. I’ll just hobble around the rink a couple of times holding onto the railing.” So that’s what I did.
The second or third time around I noticed I was doing a little better than the adults and kids who had obviously never skated before. Hmmm.
I lost count. Maybe the 8th time around, I did not go near the railing once.
I was even kind of tentatively gliding, and windmilling had shrunk to an occasional tiny balance correction with the arms.
I never took lessons or anything and was never a really good skater, just good enough to have fun. They’d freeze over the park across from our house and we’d go over there and scramble around for hours. 40 years of disuse, and that motor pattern was still intact in my brain, folded in tissue and mothballs, needing only to be awakened and shook out.